10. Quaaludes/Car Ride Home/Phone Fight Sequence, The Wolf of Wall Street
The best comedic set piece of the year was directed by none other than Martin Scorsese as it was impossible not to laugh at Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio)’s drug-heightened race to get back home and the ensuing phone fight with Donnie (Jonah Hill).
9. Mirkwood, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The chapter set in the forest of Mirkwood was one of the most memorable in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit so it was nice to see Peter Jackson do it justice (disorientating trails and scary spiders included).
8. Race Against Monoxide Poisoning, Gravity
One of the most intense scenes of the year was Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock)’s struggle to get into the International Space Station before the carbon monoxide in her suit built up to fatal amounts all while tearfully saying goodbye to Kowalski (George Clooney).
7. “Look at My Sheeit”, Spring Breakers
One of the best moments of acting this year was James Franco’s Scarface-inspired monologue about life as a gangster.
6. “Everytime”, Spring Breakers
The best montage of the year also came from Spring Breakers as Alien (James Franco) and the girls (Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) broke out into song before the film transitioned into scenes from their escapades.
5. First Steps on Land, Gravity
Sure, the ending for Gravity was predictable but it had Alfonso Cuaron’s stamp all over it (and gloriously so).
4. The Whipping, 12 Years a Slave
This scene is this year’s equivalent of The Master’s First Processing Scene. It’s just a masterfully directed scene that gets everything out of the performers while keeping the tension at an unbearable level.
3. Child of Space, Gravity
It was great to see such a neat homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it was even better to see this scene become its own subplot as we slowly watched the rebirth of Ryan Stone throughout the film.
2. Lost in Space, Gravity
The film’s second scene included something I didn’t think was possible to do on film: transition from third-person POV to first-person POV while maintaining a tracking shot. So kudos to Alfonso Cuaron and Emmanuel Lubezki for doing that while keeping the intensity of the film’s first scene intact.
1. Opening Scene, Gravity
This year’s greatest scene also happens to be one of the all-time great technical achievements in cinematic history. The ten-minute plus opening tracking shot as the peaceful tranquility of space is abruptly ruined is one of the most awe-inspiring things ever put on film.